Walking around the Trinity-Bellwoods area during the first pandemic lock down, we noticed colourful painted plaques of the flowers and the bees that were hung on a neighborhood fence. Another neighbor had toy dinosaurs hidden in the crevices of their tree. For a moment, Ivan and I were taken into a world of the dinosaur hunt. As with everybody else, the self-isolation was difficult. Seeing the cheerful artwork and dinosaur decorations inspired us to do something similar, to offer passers by a chance to pause and be reminded of resilience and hope.
I asked Ivan if he could make some wood plaques that we could paint and hang on our Japanese Maple. We considered a variety of different things but agreed butterflies would be best for representing transformation and hope. In addition to allowing for a wide range of colours, seeing butterflies simply makes us happy. We have a Buddleia, commonly known as Butterfly bush, in our back yard that is frequented by many butterflies every summer and fall. During those times, the butterfly bush becomes a special feature in our garden that fascinates us and everyone who visits.
What I initially thought would be a simple assignment for Ivan turned into a complete study of butterfly proportions. I didn’t expect Ivan to stay up 2 nights in a row drawing the butterflies in AutoCAD. Given the freedom to create and design, Ivan turned a painting project in a shop116 woodshop project.
Ivan’s shaded butterfly sketch was so striking, we decided to build it using complimentary exotic wood pieces from prior projects that we had in our shop. The shades of the butterfly would be represented by the different wood colours and textures, allowing the beauty of the wood to paint our butterflies.
Excited about the project, we naively thought it could be done in a few days… it took more like a few weeks!
There was some trial and error, but the results were well worth the effort. Making the butterflies, with the intension to share them with our families, motivated us. We thought of how happy they would be to receive a surprise gift. Not for any specific occasion but simply to let them know we think of them all the time, even if we were not allowed to visit them.
During the first wave, we were very afraid we might be asymptomatic carriers of Covid without knowing it. We dropped off the butterflies wearing masks and left them at the front door or garage door. Then yelled from 6 feet away asking our families to quarantine the butterflies for a few days before opening them.
We hung a few of the butterflies on our Japanese maple. The remaining butterflies were hung in our living room, above our smiling Buddha.